They fear it will have direct impact on procurement price

Tobacco growers in the district were highly disappointed over an 18 per cent rise in excise duty on tobacco products in the present budget, fearing that the tax burden would ultimately land on their shoulders.

Even as the sale price of cured tobacco was solely dependent on demand and supply, farmers said slapping such a heavy duty would have a direct impact on the procurement price.

A majority of farmers strongly condemned what they called double standards of the Central government on tobacco. On the one hand, the Centre has been heavily funding tobacco crop research and propagation of new varieties among farmers and on the other, it has been imposing heavy duty on tobacco products, paralysing its market either through ban or restriction of retail sale, said Murugesan of Kedayarumbu near Oddanchatram.

After two decades of research, the Vedasandur Tobacco Research Station, a Central government organisation at Vedasandur. released two new high-yielding and pest-tolerant chewing varieties last month to boost production, encouraging farmers to shift to the new varieties for better profit, he added. The ‘friend-to-the-cultivator, enemy-to-tobacco-products’ attitude of the Centre would, ultimately, hit the farmers badly. Despite repeated appeals, it has been increasing duty every year.

Already, monsoon failure and water shortage had adversely impacted production on a large scale. With a sharp slump in production, the price of cured tobacco was hovering between Rs.11,000 to Rs.13,500 per tonne this year, whereas it was just Rs.6,000 to Rs.6,500 last year. The number of users of chewing tobacco slumped sharply, as only elders used it. With no option, buyers would pass on the tax burden to farmers, said V.C. Ratchappan, tobacco grower, at Muthu Naickenpatti.

The Tobacco Growers’ Association in the State had already appealed to the Centre for relief. The welfare of thousands of tobacco growers was being neglected, lamented the growers. Tobacco is being cultivated on large tracts of lands in Oddanchatram and Vedasandur blocks in Dindigul district.

  • Farmers condemn Centre’s double standards

  • They have been hit by monsoon failure, water shortage